This Sunday, close to 500 people are expected to run past the farms in Cedar during the Cedar 12K road race.
The Cedar 12K will be held Sunday, Feb. 9, starting at 11 a.m. at North Cedar Intermediate School at 2215 Gould Rd. There is a 10:30 a.m. early start for walkers and runners who expected to take more than 1.75 hours.
Racers can register online or in-person the morning of the race at North Cedar Intermediate School from 9-10:30 a.m.
Race director John Durkin describes the course, which goes through the Cedar Road and Haslam Road area, as rolling country hills.
“You’re surrounded by farms,” he said. “It’s a little bit hilly, but it’s not really, really difficult. A lot of guys use it as a training run for longer races too.”
The Cedar 12K is the third race in the 2014 Frontrunners Island Race Series hosted by the Vancouver Island Runners’ Association, after the Harrier Pioneer 8K and the Cobble Hill 10K.
Durkin says there has been a Cedar race since the start of the Vancouver Island Race Series, which has been taking place for 33 years.
The Cedar race was originally a 15K, and it became a 12K in 2000. Durkin says 12 kilometres is not a standard race length, but there are others — he knows there is one more 12K race in B.C. in the Okanagan.
“It’s not a totally rare distance,” he said.
For the Vancouver Island Runners’ Association, runners receive awards at individual races in the Frontrunners Island Race Series, but they can also win overall awards for the series, and to qualify for those awards, they must run a minimum of five races, and one of those races has to be longer than 10 kilometres.
“A lot of people who don’t like longer runs will choose Cedar because it’s shorter but still over 10K,” noted Durkin.
Durkin says the Cedar 12K usually attracts just under 500 runners. The field hovers around 470 to 490, and Durkin says they made it over the 500 mark one year and would love to reach that mark again this year.
“We’ve had all kinds of class athletes running it over the years,” said Durkin, noting Olympic triathlon champion Simon Whitfield won the race two years ago.
Jim Finlayson holds the men’s course record, while the women’s course record belongs to Lucy Smith.
Durkin says it takes a lot of volunteers to put on the race, and many people help out on the day of the race. The North Cedar Volunteer Fire Department provides emergency services, while members of the Nanaimo RCMP help with traffic control.
“We get lots of support from the series sponsors and from local sponsors,” noted Durkin.
One thing that makes the Cedar 12K unique is its handmade awards.
“We have the most amazing awards of the whole series,” said Durkin. “We have these beautiful, beautiful awards.”
The awards are created by Nanaimo artisan Angellos Glaros who happens to also be a runner, and Durkin says they are usually made with wood and metal.